8 Defence Mechanisms Used by Politicians and Others

Over the last two weeks we have seen how David Cameron, Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn and even Roy Hodgson cope with being rejected. What can you learn from them and how can it help you?

Become a High Performance Manager

We have seen how many different managers and leaders have handled being rejected in the full glare of the media. Some, like the England Manager Roy Hodgson, wanted to just 'walk away' and not to talk about it. David Cameron took a principled decision and 'fell on his sword' in contrast to Jeremy Corbyn who is in a state of denial and 'death to the world'.

And living up to his reputation, Boris Johnson announced his decision not to stand for the leadership of the Conservative party by delivering a 'one-liner punch-line' at the end of what was a great speech which gave no clue of his intention.

Being rejected, criticised or 'failing in public' in whatever way plays havoc with our emotional well-being and leads us to adopt one or more of a range of emotional coping strategies. We instinctively resort to the use of 'unconscious protective measures'.

Whilst apparently helpful in the moment, I can tell you they are not in the long term.

8 Emotional Coping Strategies

I think there are at least 8 common coping strategies; denial, repression, displacement, projection, reaction formation, regression, rationalisation and sublimation. Here is a taste of what I mean by denial, repression and displacement.

Have You Ever Been in Denial?

When a situation or the fact becomes too much to handle, you may simply refuse to experience or accept it. You simply deny the reality which protects you from the having to face and deal with the unpleasant scenario. While this may alleviate the ‘short term pain’, in the long run, denial prevents you from making the necessary positive changes you need to make

Have Your Ever Repressed Something?

Where denial is about the outright refusal to accept the reality of a situation, repression involves completely forgetting the situation or experience altogether. It involves your mind taking the decision to ‘bury the memory in the subconscious’. This means you do not need to face or tackle the painful, disturbing or horrible thoughts, feelings or circumstances.

Have You Ever Displaced Your Feelings?

Displacement involves you transferring your emotions from the person or the situation (i.e. the target of your frustration) onto someone or something else. Maybe at a subconscious level, you recognise that to confront the source of your feelings may be too dangerous or risky, therefore you shift the focus towards a target or situation that is less intimidating or dangerous. The impact of this approach is that you often end up upsetting someone else (i.e. an innocent bystander) leading to more bad feelings.

The High Performance Manager

Do you recognise any of these in the way you have coped with a situation? What about any of your team members or colleagues? The problem if left not addressed will start to eat away at people’s self-esteem and performance will suffer.

High performance managers possess a super-sensitive antenna when it comes to emotional well-being. They spot the use of emotional coping strategies and know that they need to get to the root cause of the problem rather than letting it go. Yes, this might involve difficult, challenging and even uncomfortable conversations, but they know that in the long term it is better for everyone and better for performance.

This is just one of the topics covered in Exponential Training’s new programme - The High Performance Manager. The High Performance Manager scheduled for launch in September is based on 16 years’ hands-on experience, research and observation of High Performance Managers.

To get a sneak preview of the High Performance Manager and to find out about all 8 defence mechanisms used at work, download your copy of 8 Defence Mechanisms Used at Work.

DOWNLOAD 8 DEFENCE MECHANISMS USED AT WORK

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About the Author

John Moore has over 20 years experience of training and developing Managers, Coaches, Consultants and businesses. As Managing Director of Exponential Training, John researches, speaks, blogs and writes about how to improve performance. He also designs and delivers engaging, fun and interactive learning programmes. John is a Fellow Chartered Manager and has worked with managers and organisations in over 20 different countries.

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